There has been much speculation about just how much involvement the Russians had with NSA leaker Edward Snowden before he arrived at Moscow’s airport. Now a new report claims he took refuge in the Russian consulate in Hong Kong before he even left for Moscow. If this is true, that Russian involvement could be deeper than we knew.
On August 26, the Washington Post picked up a report from a Russian newspaper that claimed that Snowden spent several days at the Russian consulate in Hong Kong before his landing in Moscow. Russian authorities–including Vladimir Putin— have maintained all along that they were “surprised” by his June 23 arrival at the Sheremetyevo International Airport in Moscow. But this new report gives reason to doubt that the Russians were caught so flat-footed by Snowden’s movements.
Once Snowden arrived in Moscow, eight days passed before Russian authorities gave him official asylum and he was able to leave the airport. Still, Russia has afforded his asylum only “temporary” status.
But even with this new report, accounts conflict as to how and when the Russians got involved with Snowden.
The article in the Russian newspaper Kommersant reports that some say Snowden was in contact with Russian officials the whole time and that they invited him to their country while he was in Hong Kong.
This conflicts with the public story that the Russians were not in contact with Snowden before he arrived in Moscow and that his appearance was unbidden and a surprise.